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How to Get the Most Out of Jubilee

February 15, 2010

This post specifically refers to the annual Jubilee Conference, put on by my organization (CCO), and coming up this weekend (2/19-21) in Pittsburgh, PA.

As usual, we have a diverse and stellar lineup designed to help over 2500 college students from the mid-Atlantic region think Christianly about every sphere of life. I’m particularly looking forward to hearing pastor and civil rights leader John Perkins, as well as renowned artist Mako Fujimura from the main stage.

We’ll be taking one of our largest groups ever from Penn State–University Park, despite the conflict with Dance Marathon (THON), the largest student-run philanthropy in the world, and quite a big deal at PSU.

Yours truly is not only taking several students, and driving a large van to Pittsburgh, but also speaking. I’ll be moderating a panel made up of Christians and atheists, as well as leading a seminar on Calling to Campus Ministry as vocation.

I’ve identified 5 postures or practices designed to help people get the most out of Jubilee. I’m sure there are more, but I’ve highlighted these as particularly helpful.

1. Come with an open mind.

Assess and deal with your preconceived notions, particularly of what Christian conferences (and a bunch of gathered Christians) are like. Question your skepticism.
In large part, the conference will be what you make of it.
People have had amazing, wild, utterly mind-blowing, life-transforming experiences.
People have also had “Meh” experiences.

So in your mental, spiritual, and physical posture, be Active (engaged), not Passive (entertain me).
Seek humility (I don’t know everything), not arrogance (no one can teach me). Ask what you can contribute (prosumer), not “what’s in it for me” (consumer). In that sense, I’m contradicting the title of this post–but that’s what many of us walk in asking when we come to a conference like this.

One thing about Jubilee–you won’t agree with everyone. Jubilee is not “safe,” as many conferences are. You will be exposed to things you don’t comprehend, things you dislike, things that make you uncomfortable, things you’ve never heard before. This is good.

So listen, process, dialogue. It means to think critically, but to not put yourself “above” the conference as a hyper-critic. You’ll rob yourself–and others–of your experience.

2. Work ahead
This point isn’t just for students! Trust me, you won’t want to come home on Sunday afternoon with 6 hours of work to do. If possible, you don’t want to have to do O-Chem on Saturday afternoon. You’ll want to process. You’ll want to rest. Do yourself a favor, and do everything you can to leave your work behind from Friday thru Sunday. Your future self thanks me for telling you this.

3. Meet new people

You are gathering with 2500 students, and leading authorities in their field. So get out there and meet them! Meet students. Meet speakers. Connect with some ministries and organizations. Start conversations. Make connections. Network.  Line up an internship for the summer.  The people you meet at Jubilee may serve as a critical juncture in your life-path.

4. Get some new books!
Jubilee is not about telling you what to think. It is about helping you know HOW to think. It is about equipping you to join the conversation. It is about connecting you to the best dialogue partners. One thing about Jubilee–it puts to death the common assumption that Christians are anti-intellectual, uncultured, & brain-dead. Well, not all of us are. You will encounter a unique and fantastic book “table” at Jubilee. I say “table” in quotes because what Byron Borger and the Hearts & Minds team pull off is extraordinary. You will find books with a Christian perspective on nearly every field of study. You will want to spend a good deal of time perusing this mobile bookstore, which is unlike any other bookstore you’ve been to. So bring some money, and plan on coming home with a couple books!

5. Pace yourself, and process as you go.

We hope–and expect–that you go to most or all of the main sessions. We hope you go to most of the breakout sessions. We expect you to be fully present when you are there.   Take notes–you won’t remember everything you hear, and you’ll want to.

But at some point–particularly if this is your first Jubilee–you may get overwhelmed or worn out. Take the time to process and refresh yourself. This isn’t a carte blanche to skip out, but to pull someone else aside and talk through something you have heard, to work things down deeper so they stick.

Ask for help. Prepare prayerfully. Come with an open, expectant heart. Jubilee is a great resource, a great opportunity, and a great gift. Make the most of it this weekend!

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